Plzeňské sympozia

Matěj Kratochvíl

Music from an Objective Machine> Folk Music and the Phonograph

pp. 262–268, summary p. 269

Sound recording began to play a more important role in many areas of human life from the end of the 19th century. The influence of this technology was manifested the most significantly in the area of music industry, where a new form of music consumption was born with the invention and spreading of Edison’s phonograph. In addition, however, this invention influenced the sphere of science as well. The field called ethnomusicology now started to form in approximately the same time that the phonograph appeared, and it may be said that without this device ethnomusicology would have never been what it is today. The possibility of capturing the elusive musical expression, play and study it over and over again, opened a path for scientists to grasp the music cultures of the whole world without being limited by the system of European music notation. At the same time, however, sound recording brought various limitations as well as the danger of a distorted perception of sound sources, and directed the speculations of music towards certain stereotypes, with which ethnomusicology was then coping for a large part of the 20th century. In the Bohemian Lands, the awareness of the technical novelty spread relatively soon among the lay public as well as in the academic circles, but its practical application in the area of the documentation of traditional music culture in the period before World War I was relatively rare. The sound documents that have been preserved were not published until the last decades.

Key words: Bohemian Lands, 19th century, cultural history, ethnomusicology, phonograph, sound recording

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